The Quarter Report by San Dova: Autumn Session
* Editors Note: Slam Online's Sandy Dover was nice enough to by StepienRules today and offer us an assessment of the Cavaliers' play to date through the first quarter of this NBA season. For more from Sandy, check out the San Dova Speak Easy, or follow Sandy on Twitter @SandSeraph. *
Before I start, I want to give some love to Brendan for allowing me to jump on StepienRules and share some knowledge with you guys about the Cleveland Cavs. It’s not everyday that you’re invited to share some insight as a guest on other channels, especially not by a site as thorough in coverage at StepienRules, so a big thank you to Mr. Bowers for the open invitation. While some of you may have seen me kick around at SLAM, I’m going to be delivering occasional reports on the Cleveland Cavaliers in what you’ll know to be The Quarter Report.
So…upon the start of the season for the Cavaliers, Cleveland was learning how play amongst each other with several new additions to the team (along with some notable subtractions). A few bad losses and a lack of out-the-box cohesiveness brought many of observers of the team to question Cleveland’s potency. Our hero, LeBron Ramone James, seemed to also be feeling out his court space with new teammate Shaquille O’Neal, and head coach Mike Brown was struggling early after losing former assistant offensive whiz John Kuester, who’s now the head coach for the Detroit Pistons. Alas, the Cavs made emerging second-year player J.J. Hickson the starting power forward (while sending Anderson Varejao to the bench), upgraded the backcourt in acquiring Anthony “The Other Tony” Parker (leaving troubled combination guard Delonte “KFC” West on the bench). Since the early November adjustment period, the Cavaliers have seemingly been on pace for another notable season-long campaign. And now to player evaluations…
He’s really been on and off this season, but the former Longhorn has done relatively OK whenever he’s been in games, and has even been a good contributor for them when he’s been able to play within himself. One of the things that Daniel should continue to work on is his ball-handling, because the Cavs always need more players to use that can play on and off of the ball, and it would raise his stock as a potential trade asset (even if Cleveland still doesn’t want his contributions).
It’s hard to say what all Danny will do this year, and thus far, he hasn’t been a disappointment, so that’s a good enough sign. He’s a winner, so as long as he plays good defense and is court-aware in the little minutes he’s projected to get, he’ll be straight.
J.J.’s really come on for the Cavs as a starter, and it’s something that’s especially welcome. While he gave good contributions in his rookie season, learning the NBA game and having to sit behind Joe Smith and Ben Wallace didn’t allow him to build on the progress he made in the middle of the previous season. Now, Hickson is giving Cleveland the extra boost of athleticism and post game production that was sorely needed.
He’s been a champ for quietly and willingly going to the bench this season. Being a key player for Cleveland in their continuous run for a championship, Z may actually have a chance to be a better producer as the season goes along with his limited minutes thus far. Right now, he’s still trying to find his niche as a reserve player, but is still moderately effective when the offense is run through him, LeBron and Varejao.
The Kansas product hasn’t had many minutes thrown his way early, but I’m sure it’s because he hasn’t earned what he hasn’t been yet given. Hickson’s production and Varejao’s re-role as a reserve big man have kept his burn low. Thus far, he’s solid insurance for injuries.
One thing that’s noticeable about LBJ is that he’s a little less muscle bound this year, which isn’t a total surprise. He said last year that he wasn’t expecting to stay at 275 lbs and actually wanted to shrink to about 255 or 260, so that may explain it (if I were him, I’d keep his weight around 270). Either way, Le King is having another excellent season, upping his assist average and continuing to guide the Cavs with his scoring, passing and remarkable leadership. His jump shot seems to be as accurate as ever, while he’s still finding his lanes around the perimeter to slash. Not bad for an MVP.